At age 16, when most girls are wrapping up their Quinceanera memories and making a second home out of their local mall, Marlene Esparza was winning her first national boxing title and saving her footwork for inside the ring. The 22-year-old Houston native, who was recently signed as spokesperson for Cover Girl cosmetics, is the first woman to qualify for the first ever US Olympic boxing team.
Men have been participating in boxing at the Olympics since the games began in 1904. This year, however, will be the first year that women’s boxing will be part of the Olympic games. Marlene Esparza was the first American female boxer to qualify for the London Olympics.
The road has led Esparza to live a rather untraditional life, sacrificing social time for hours in the gym and passing up mocha frapuccinos for protein foods, fruits and veggies. According to her father, David Esparza, it was Marlen’s stubbornness, determination and discipline that won her the ticket to London.
But her family is not the only fans that are celebrating Marlen’s accomplishments. Within her Houston and Latino community, where boxing is as important part of the culture as is soccer or Sunday mass, words of encouragement have flooded the young boxer. Houston City Council Member Ed Gonzalez has expressed that the entire Hispanic community of Houston will support her quest to continue writing history.
As she counts down to the London 2012 Summer Olympics, which kick off on July 27, the training and strict regimens for the young Latina will continue. You can read more about her road to the Olympics in the July issue of Vogue magazine where Marlen talks about her life as a female boxer and where she rocks a boxing stance, with a red evening dress and all.